Todd Lemire, a Michigan plant worker and union member of over 17 years, found that out the hard way when he decided to leave his UAW Local 600 this summer. Following the opt-out, Local 600 Tool and Die Unit President Bob Brezovsky publicized Lemire’s name and title in the fall edition of the union’s online publication, along with the following message: “These names and anyone else that chooses to stop paying their fair share will be posted in every article.”
Lemire is not alone. The UAW often uses so-called “scab lists”—lists of employees who have quit the union—in right-to-work states as a way of targeting nonunion employees and discouraging union workers from opting out in the future. They have also been introduced in states such as Kansas and Tennessee, and leave the victims vulnerable to various forms of workplace bullying. In Tennessee, one longtime GM worker whose name appeared on a “scab list” was approached by several union members “who engaged in harassment name-calling.”
“Scab” targeting represents a concerted effort by union bosses to force employees into paying member dues. It also demonstrates why union members need the Employee Rights Act (ERA), which would criminalize union threats and bullying by allowing the federal government to step in when union advocacy crosses the line from free speech to violent behavior.
When employees like Todd Lemire voluntarily leave a union, they should be fully protected by the law. The ERA would guarantee their right to say no without fear of retribution.